Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks are great platforms to share what your church or ministry is doing. But sometimes the account or posts may get a few negative comments or reviews. How do you handle the negativity?
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s social networks are periodically hit with people who vocally (sometimes intensely) oppose our stances. While this itself is fine (freedom of speech, right?), it can be very difficult to address each comment and concern.
There are 4 take-aways that are important to remember:
1) Don’t ignore it. No one likes to be ignored, and if people take the time to post their concerns, they would like the courtesy of a response. It can be as simple as this: “Thank you for sharing your concerns. If I may, I would like to forward this to my ______ (fill in the blank).” Diffusing the situation by acknowledging with a ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
2) Take it out of the public eye. If the person is persistent about their opinion, take the conversation to a means of private communication (i.e. direct messaging, email). You should still make an initial response on the public comment but offer to respond in a private message. An example would be: “Thank you for sharing. I have some resources that might answer some of your questions. Can I send it to you in a direct message?” By getting the conversation out of public view, you can minimize potential onslaught and make the conversation a little more personal. It’s easier to address specific questions and get contact information if the user would like to talk to someone in leadership.
3) There is always an emotional factor. When people get vocal about an issue, there is a strong emotional tie to the situation. Respond with compassion without compromising your organization’s stance. Do not immediately block a user. Blocking users just complicates the problem because they feel ignored, and that their concern is invalid. It also hurts your organization’s reputation.
There are legitimate times to block users: when they use foul, hurtful, or violent language. Sometimes the user may not stop posting comments. That can be a justified time to block the user, especially if their only intent is to harass your account. Just be sure you post your block policy.
4) Consider what the person is saying. Not every negative comment is necessarily bad. Take time to evaluate what the person is saying – is there some truth to their comments? Prayerfully consider the words, and bring it up with your leadership team if necessary.
What advice would you add? Have you experienced conflict on your social accounts?